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Seattle awards nearly $900K in grants for educator diversity

Currently, more than 50% of Seattle Public Schools students identify as people of color but just 21% of classroom teachers identify as people of color.

SEATTLE — Nearly $900,000 in grants has been awarded by the city of Seattle's Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) to six Seattle organizations that support Black educators in their careers.

DEEL's goal for the funding is to increase educator diversity in K-12 schools in the city.

According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, about 790 (21%) Seattle Public Schools classroom teachers and 29,000 (54%) students identified as people of color in the 2020-21 school year.

DEEL and SPS partnered to have the teacher population better match the city's student diversity.

According to DEEL, the $893,000 in grant money will go toward building on recommendations from the Equitable Communities Initiative, Educator Diversity by supporting up to 520 educators through recruitment, program completion and other professional development, and mentorship. Funds will also expand organizations’ capacity to help further their reach and impact.

One of six grant recipients is ACE Academy in Seattle, which provides educators support through curriculum development, classroom management, mentoring and family engagement.

“It's just super rewarding to know that great organizations like ACE," said Dr. Dwane Chappelle, executive director of DEEL. "Doing the work can provide peer support, assistance and other types of necessary support.”

Chelsea Oguike, ACE Academy Black Education Coordinator, said the teachers she grew up with while going to school in a Chicago Suburb were 90% white. Oguike said that motivated her to go into education.

"I knew that I wanted to represent myself for future generations," Oguike said.

With an added focus on supporting Black male educators, Oguike said her Nigerian roots fuel her.

"Seeing the kind of man my father was growing up and how he was able to instill some amazing valuables and being a part of an organization that is teaching the same values to young Black men is something that's just so amazing to me and powerful," Oguike said.

While ACE Academy is working with adults to boost their careers as teachers in Seattle, Oguike said she hopes kids and teens are also inspired.

"I want students to know they can grow up and be teachers too and they can be in academic roles," Oguike said. "It's not just meant for a specific type of demographic."

Educator Diversity recipients include:

*First-time award recipient of DEEL funding 

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